Giants preparing for Robert Griffin III, Redskins’ read-option attack

Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III struggled in the season opener against Philadelphia. But he’s healthier now.
Credit: Getty Images

The downside of facing the Redskins twice in the final five weeks of the season for the Giants is a much healthier Robert Griffin III.

Washington’s offensive playbook has a lot of read-option looks, led by the dazzling legs of Griffin, which means it’s just another different look Terrell Thomas and Co. will need to study.

The cornerback said he believes his defense will be up to the task.

“When you watch the film it’s just little techniques here and there that you need to key on, which is why they’re able to be successful in it [read-option],” said Thomas of a Washington team they’re seeing for the first time this season. “They’re probably gonna do a lot of what they did last year, maybe do a little bit more, so we must watch a little bit more film and work a little bit harder this week. … We’re not feeling too good [after the Dallas loss], so we need to get this thing turned around quickly.”

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell knows how efficient Washington’s offense can be. They have the No. 7 overall offense and the league’s second-best rushing attack.

Starting tailback Alfred Morris has tallied 970 yards so far, as he’s yet to experience a sophomore slump from his stellar rookie campaign last season, while Griffin is at 367 yards. Both are averaging at least five yards per carry.

Morris gets his via the old-fashioned way, but when Griffin breaks free, it’s usually because the quarterback has broken containment on passing downs or ridden his tailback so deep with the read-option fake the backside defensive end overcommits.

And because of that conundrum, Fewell may actually employ a spy on many plays to solely watch Griffin — although he’s usually against such a tactic.

“You don’t always want to use that person in that spy position [but] we may have a spy,” said Fewell. “Even if we do, he might not be able to catch the running quarterback sometimes anyway, but we’ll likely use the spy because it’s not just quarterback scrambles. I think sometimes they’re designed runs that they have that it’s a [quarterback sweep] run action and he just keeps the ball.”

Whatever wrinkle Fewell decides, his defense will need to execute and contain Griffin and Co. if Big Blue is to keep their dimming aspirations alive.

Big Blue notes …

» The Giants have allowed 32 touchdowns this season, a figure exceeded by only eight other NFL teams. But more than a quarter of them were not the responsibility of the defense. Opponents have scored nine return touchdowns — three apiece on interception, fumble and punt returns. The latest of what the Elias Sports Bureau also calls “miscellaneous” touchdowns occurred Sunday, when Victor Cruz was stripped of the ball by Orlando Scandrick after a 5-yard reception. Dallas rookie safety Jeff Heath recovered the fumble and returned it for the first touchdown in what became a 24-21 Cowboys victory.

The nine miscellaneous touchdowns is the highest total given up in the NFL this season. And according to Elias, it is the most ever allowed in a season by the Giants. The previous franchise high was eight in 1999 (five interception returns, one punt, one kickoff and one fumble return). The NFL record of 12 was set by the Rams in 2002.

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


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